A quick story for you: While browsing at the local Video Village back in 1984, I stumbled upon a videocassette of Archie cartoons. Having been a fan of the comics for a few years, I could barely contain my excitement at the prospect of being able to see the animated adventures of Archie and the gang. Although I was a cartoon junkie at the time, I had no idea of the long and overly complicated history of Archie toons. After a little bit of begging, my parents allowed me to rent it. Once I got home, I immediately decided to skip that evening’s viewing of Jennifer Slept Here and throw in the tape immediately. (Because watching Riverdale come to life trumps second-rate Ann Jillian vehicles any day of the week). My brother decided to take a break from his usual tormenting of me and took a seat on the couch. Immediately, the jangly “Everything’s Archie” theme began and I was overwhelmed by a visual onslaught of colors and confusion. “Why is Archie’s hair like that?”, I thought to myself. But this was the first of many questions that I would have that evening.
Basically, the Archie cartoon is horrible.
The character designs were slightly off model from what I was used to seeing in the comics. Archie’s aforementioned locks aside, I could live with this. But the voice work was atrocious. For reasons I have yet to figure out, someone at the Archie Company or Filmation decided that Veronica should speak with a Southern drawl. As more of a Betty guy, I found this to be lame but acceptable. Then Jughead opened his mouth and my soul died a bit. You see, reading the Samm Schwartz-illustrated Jughead books made me expect to see an effortlessly cool character whose sleepy eyed charm kept him one step ahead of his pals. But the Jughead who was currently appearing on the Zenith in my rec room was nothing as I expected. He was clumsy, seemed a bit dim and spoke in a nerdy squelch. I was heartbroken.
My brother and I quietly watched the remaining 40-odd minutes of the tape and after I shut it off he just patted me on the back and walked out of the room. I think he took pity on me for having my dreams crushed so mercilessly. I spent the rest of that weekend trying to forget that the Archie cartoon existed by reading the comics. That worked somewhat, but I still couldn’t quite grasp how things went so horribly, utterly wrong in Riverdale. Blech.